Pandora

IT'S LONDON Restaurant Week so sit up straight, tie on that bib, and open wide for today's scoops du jour. Who knew, for instance, that formidable food critic AA Gill harbours an alter ego as a frustrated painter? In a previous incarnation, itinerant Slade Art School graduate Adrian passed the idle hours at a market stall in Chelsea, flogging his canvases to an apparently less-than-appreciative public. We can only speculate on what weekend daubings from the hand that rocks the ladle might feature now: Still Life of an Aga with Robert Kilroy-Silk's feet protruding? Portrait of Gordon Ramsay Beaten to a Finely Pureed Pulp? Readers with an original Gill in the attic are invited to share their cherished artworks with a wider audience.

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BEST BIT of BBC2's Las Vegas Night over the weekend was the KKLZ soundbite: "We've upped our standards. Now up yours."

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LUNCH IS for wimps but the Prime Minister is one nutritionally correct dude. Whenever he rolls up his sleeves at Downing Street, our Number One Guy orders a daily delivery from Pret A Manger. Enquiring minds want to know: is he a club sandwich kinda guy? Or coronation chicken? By contrast Janet's Bar, the South Kensington watering hole, has devised a Hillary Clinton cocktail with ingredients surely more appropriate for the bubbly Cherie - it's a mixture of champagne and Red Bull.

u

THE SUITS at Estee Lauder are apparently upset that Elizabeth Hurley's (pictured) recent spread in the American magazine Details made her "look like a cheap hooker". So it's safe to surmise that it set Hugh Grant's pulse racing, then.

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`LOCK STOCK and Two Smoking Bagels' has started a feeding frenzy among Brit flick producers gagging to option any manuscript with gangland credentials. The latest is Simon Brooks, who has snapped up the rights to The Guv'nor, the best-selling autobiog of bare-knuckle champ Lenny McLean. The book, according to Dillon's in London's Oxford Street, is the store's most frequently shop-lifted title. So much so that management has now moved copies off the sales floor and behind cash desks. As hapless Wapping ad reps are doubtless sick of hearing - your readers are our shop-lifters.

u

IF NIPPER Reed wins tomorrow's Guinness Arkle Chase at Cheltenham, some say it'll be positively criminal. The animal, which has been successful in nine of its 21 outings, was named (but not spelt) for Detective Inspector Leonard "Nipper" Read, the man who arrested the Kray twins. But if Nipper Reed does get his nose in front at the line on Tuesday, owner Graham Piper, himself a former policeman, is unlikely to be on hand for the presentation. Crawley Magistrates have just remanded him in custody following the seizure of a large quantity of cocaine in Ostend.

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AN INSIGHT into passport applicant and avid reader of this newspaper Mohamed al-Fayed. A Lebanese-born BBC radio producer recently found herself in the Harrods food halls. The Arabic woman nearby was having difficulty making herself understood by the anglophone - and attitudinal - assistant at the fish counter. The producer berated the assistant for his shabby treatment of the woman, an underling sent by a Saudi prince to collect an esoteric fish dish. "Ever since Fayed bought the place," the producer told the woman in Arabic, "this shop has gone to the dogs." "I'm afraid you're right Madam," a male voice interrupted, also in Arabic. Its owner, Chairman Mo, promptly scooted behind the counter and served the woman himself. If only Jack the Biscuit's boys and girls in Whitehall were as biddable...

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ANOTHER INSTITUTION with a surprising capacity for self-deprecation is The Economist. This week it defines an economist as "someone who can't see something working in practice without asking whether it would work in theory".

Contact Pandora by e-mail: pandora @independent. co.uk

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